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From bustling coastal hubs to quaint small towns, Florida is a remarkably diverse state. The same can be said for its internet service providers. City dwellers, if they’re lucky enough to be in the right place, can sign up for AT&T Fiber, CNET’s choice for Florida’s best ISP. We’re big fans of fast upload speeds to match fast downloads.
No fiber? No problem. Cable provider Xfinity covers large areas of the state. DSL specialist Frontier competes in the Tampa area and cable ISP Spectrum has a big presence across the middle of Florida. Rural areas with few other options can look to DSL, satellite or fixed wireless internet providers. The goal is to find a reliable internet provider that’s fast enough to handle your streaming, gaming or remote work needs.
CNET examines customer service, speed, pricing and overall value before recommending the best broadband in your area. If you’re already settled in your favorite Florida city, or if you’re moving in for the first time and shopping for internet, check out our detailed guides for Miami, Orlando and Pensacola. Read on for the big picture on Florida internet service providers. We’ll show you the major players as well as the other providers competing for your attention.
Best internet options in Florida
Our choices for the best ISPs in Florida earned their places thanks to speeds, pricing, availability or some combination of all those features. Your options will vary depending on where you live, but the following providers are the ones to look out for and prioritize when you’re shopping for internet service. All prices listed on this page reflect available discounts for setting up paperless billing. If you decide not to go with automatic monthly payments, your price will be higher.
Note: The prices, speeds and features detailed in the article text may differ from those listed in the product detail cards, which represent providers’ national offerings. Your particular internet service options — including prices and speeds — depend on your address and may differ from those detailed here.
Rural internet options in Florida
|Provider||Connection type||Price range||Speed range||Data cap||Availability|
|CenturyLink||DSL||$50||20-140Mbps||None||Some metro areas in the panhandle and peninsula|
|Kinetic by Windstream||DSL||$40-$70||100-1,000Mbps||None||North peninsula|
|Mediacom||Cable||$20-$60||100-1,000Mbps||Up to 6TB||Panhandle|
|Open Broadband||Fiber/fixed wireless||$60-$110||25-200Mbps||None||Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties|
|Rapid Systems||Fixed wireless||$79-$99||10-25Mbps||None||Broad area around Tampa|
|T-Mobile Home Internet||Fixed wireless||$50 (as low as $30 with eligible phone plan)||72-245Mbps||None||5G coverage across large areas of Florida|
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Source: CNET analysis of provider data
Satellite internet is good to go almost anywhere, even in remote locations, but you may have other options for your rural home. Chances are you won’t have the luxury of a fiber connection, and even cable can be hard to come by. When it comes to wired internet, your best bet may be DSL from ISPs like AT&T Internet or CenturyLink, our choice for best rural internet provider in the US overall. DSL speeds won’t give you whiplash, but they’re likely to be faster and cheaper than some other alternatives.
Fixed wireless is one solution for reaching homes that aren’t connected to wired internet. You can check if T-Mobile Home Internet (which has been expanding its reach in rural areas) or Verizon 5G Home Internet happens to service your address. Keep an eye out for smaller, regional providers. Rapid Systems, for example, provides fixed wireless to 11 counties in Florida and services parts of Valrico and Bradenton with plans starting at $79 a month. Open Broadband, a company focused on underserved areas across the southeastern US, covers several Florida counties with a straightforward $60 plan for speeds up to 200Mbps.
Florida will soon have more rural internet options thanks to government investments and grants. In June, Comcast announced plans to expand its Xfinity 10G network to 25 rural areas in the state.
Head to the FCC National Broadband Map and look up your address to get an idea of which ISPs service your location. You may discover a local provider you weren’t aware of. And if all else fails, there’s always satellite internet from Starlink, Viasat or HughesNet, with HughesNet being our recommendation based on affordability. Here’s our comparison of the best satellite internet providers.
Florida broadband coverage at a glance
The FCC has some fairly low standards for what counts as broadband. The connection has to have download speeds of at least 25Mbps and upload speeds of at least 3Mbps. Florida’s data from 2021 found 87.2% of households in the state have access to broadband internet, but some counties fare better than others. Clay County, part of the Jacksonville metro area, hit nearly 94% access while Hamilton County on the north edge of the state was only at 67%. If you look at Florida’s data going back to 2017, there’s been a steady upward tick in broadband availability across the state.
Fiber internet, lauded for its reliability and upload speeds as well as fast downloads, is still a precious commodity on a state-wide level. FCC data shows only about 35% of residences can get connected with fiber speeds up to 250Mbps, and just 31% can get a gig or faster. The places with the best fiber coverage are concentrated around the big metro areas of Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami. That’s something to consider if you’re planning a move to Florida and need fiber for work or gaming. AT&T Fiber is a major ISP player in Florida, but look for Frontier Fiber in the Tampa area.
How fast is Florida broadband?
FCC data shows over 90% of Florida residences can access fixed broadband speeds of at least 250Mbps, but that figure drops to under 40% for speeds of at least 1,000Mbps. Not surprisingly, the largest metro areas enjoy the highest speed options, so if you need a super-fast connection for work or play, then keep an eye on big cities like Jacksonville, Tampa and Miami.
Let’s measure Florida against the rest of the nation. According to Ookla’s Speedtest data, Florida isn’t the fastest or slowest state when it comes to broadband. It sits right in the middle of the state rankings. Ookla also ranks the internet speeds for the 100 most populous cities in the US. Florida enters the picture with Jacksonville in 16th place. Other metro areas, including Miami (82nd) and Orlando (89th), don’t fare as well, showing Florida has some room for improvement in its broadband performance.
When it comes to fast internet in Florida, fiber is where it’s at. AT&T Fiber has some of the widest availability across the state, though it’s still hit-and-miss as to coverage when you look at a state-wide map. AT&T delivers speeds of up to 5,000Mbps in some spots. There are a handful of other fiber competitors, notably CenturyLink’s Quantum Fiber and Frontier Fiber. Recent federal and state broadband infrastructure investments should help expand fiber’s footprint in the state.
Internet pricing in Florida
A typical starting price for home internet is $50 a month, but there are some providers that have lower entry points, often as promotional deals or contract deals for new customers. Xfinity is notable for offering a $30-a-month Connect plan for 75Mbps service, but that’s a one-year promo price. If you’re an existing T-Mobile or Verizon phone customer (or plan to become one), you can get deeply discounted home internet to the tune of $30 a month with T-Mobile or $25 a month with Verizon.
There are other ways to save on your internet bill. For starters, be realistic about how much speed you need. If you’re just streaming Netflix and shopping online, you probably don’t need that $180-per-month, 5,000Mbps AT&T Fiber plan. A slower, less expensive plan will do just fine. While it’s not necessarily fun to switch ISPs, the savings can be worth it. Shop around and compare pricing, especially if your existing plan has reached the end of its promo period and the price has gone up. Here are eight ways to save on your internet bill.
The federal Affordable Connectivity Program is a lifesaver for low-income households. Most eligible residents will be able to get at least $30 off their monthly internet bill, making getting online either free or cheap. Many ISPs participate in this program. If you qualify, check with your provider. Some offer special plans for low-income households, like Spectrum’s $20-per-month Internet Assist plan with 30Mbps downloads.
Future of broadband in Florida
The future of Florida broadband looks bright. Federal money is pouring in to improve internet options. In December 2022, Florida was approved for $248 million to help connect an estimated 48,400 households and businesses lacking in high-speed internet access. That dollar figure is dwarfed by an incoming investment of nearly $1.7 billion through the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program as part of the federal Infrastructure Act.
Florida’s Broadband Opportunity Program is at work to expand broadband. It made a splash in May with the announcement of $60 million in awards for 22 projects across the state. Those funds are going to a variety of work, including laying fiber-optic cable in multiple counties like Bradford, Marion, Highlands and Santa Rosa. Other projects are focused on expanding fixed wireless coverage in rural areas. As these projects come to fruition, more rural and underserved areas will be able to get fast, reliable and affordable internet.
How CNET chose the best internet providers in Florida
Internet service providers are numerous and regional. Unlike the latest smartphone, laptop, router or kitchen tool, it’s impractical to personally test every ISP in a given city. So what’s our approach? We start by researching the pricing, availability and speed information drawing on our own historical ISP data, the provider sites and mapping information from the Federal Communications Commission at FCC.gov.
But it doesn’t end there. We go to the FCC’s website to check our data and ensure we’re considering every ISP that provides service in an area. We also input local addresses on provider websites to find specific options for residents. To evaluate how happy customers are with an ISP’s service, we look at sources including the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power. ISP plans and prices are subject to frequent changes; all information provided is accurate as of the time of publication.
Once we have this localized information, we ask three main questions:
- Does the provider offer access to reasonably fast internet speeds?
- Do customers get decent value for what they’re paying?
- Are customers happy with their service?
While the answer to those questions is often layered and complex, the providers who come closest to “yes” on all three are the ones we recommend.
To explore our process in more depth, visit our How We Test ISPs page.